The El Rey Club, Searchlight, NV

The El Rey Club, Searchlight, NV
The El Rey Resort & Casino, Circa 1957-1962

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Author Seeking Representation/Publication—The King: The Story of Willie Martello & His El Rey Club

The following is my query letter to agents and publishers.
I am hopeful that my appearance on American Restoration
will lead to the publishing of my book.

The King: The Story of Willie Martello and his El Rey Club
(creative non-fiction, approximately 80,000 words)
© Andy Martello

PH: 702-465-5604

After a horrific blaze destroyed Willie Martello’s El Rey Club in January of 1962, nearly fifty years would pass before anyone knew of how that very casino and one-time brothel would inadvertently launch the career of Francis Ford Coppola, provide a template for present-day gambling resorts, and upset the mob by luring millions of dollars away from Las Vegas and into the tiny mining town of Searchlight, Nevada.

Were it not for my chance discovery of a single photo in a Las Vegas museum, the El Rey Club would be known as little more than the seedy brothel where Senator Harry Reid learned to swim. Willie Martello was a hard-drinking gambler and cavalier womanizer of notorious charm and remarkable luck. Between 1946 and 1962, Martello’s club brought an estimated $5,000,000.00 a year into the near-ghost town of Searchlight, Nevada, by using everything from prostitutes to plane rides, passenger pigeons to wild burros, transgendered celebrities to the DeCastro Sisters. His outrageous exploits and accomplishments should place him among magnates like Howard Hughes or Steve Wynn, yet somehow, very few know his name. What little that is known, mostly excerpts from Senator Reid’s books, is rather unflattering. Referred to exclusively as a pimp or whoremonger, the unbelievable tales of Willie’s innovations and escapades are mysteriously absent. Lost for over sixty years, these vibrant stories are now brought to light.

I have been a professional comedian, writer, and entertainer for over 25 years. At present I am a columnist for the North Las Vegas Voice newspaper and a regular contributor to Strip Las Vegas magazine. As a freelance humor and opinion writer, my work has been published at several well-read online publications, including, The Riverwalk Journal, and Having only encountered three other Martellos who were not in my family, the prospect of finding a Martello who owned a casino and brothel—possibly a distant relative, transformed me into “an accidental historian.” This project began as a hobby, developed into a wildly popular section of my blog, and rapidly turned into a six-year mission to get this story told. As a result, I’m proud to say some of my research was used in the writing of Robert Graysmith’s best-seller, The Girl in Alfred Hitchcock’s Shower. Mr. Graysmith, a great fan and supporter of my work, is very eager to find my finished book on the shelves, as am I.

I offer my most sincere and heartfelt thanks for your time and your consideration. At your request I will forward an outline, table of contents, and sample chapters for your perusal. Should you require an in-depth, formal proposal, please do not hesitate to contact me. I am looking hopefully forward to the prospect of working with you in the near future.

Potentially yours,

Andy Martello

el rey club american restoration

The research & collecting of photos and memorabilia from the El Rey Club never stops! Please contact me at 702-465-5604 or email me at if you have stories or memorabilia to share.


  1. If only I were a book publisher...or knew one... or was famous enough to influence one I didn't know...

    Someday we'll read your book, Andy! I just KNOW it!

  2. Hey, I just saw you get your sign redone on American Restoration with Rick, so I did a search for the El Rey Club and ended up here! Good work.

    1. Thanks Russ. I'm hopeful to see the book find a publisher as a result of this show.

      I'd settle for getting a story in The History Channel magazine as well. lol

      I'm very happy with the billboard and appreciate your taking time to comment.

  3. Andy,
    Thanks for your continued efforts to bring to life the true story of our colorful cousin, Willie Martello. While I never met Willie directly, I do remember my trip out west in 1954 with mom and dad as a 9 year old in a 1953 Desoto (in August with no air conditioning.) My uncle took me to lunch where I met Willie's brother Vincent ("Buddy") at the original El Rey bar in Los Angeles. He was still running the bar while Willie was running the Casino. He fixed me the best hamburger I ever ate! Here's hoping you find a publisher soon.


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